Within the pages of “The Republic”, Greek philosopher Plato laid out his Principle of Specialization. I’m going to oversimplify it to the point of butchery, but the basic premise is that every member of society should focus on the profession they’re good at, and not dabble in any other business. Fishermen shouldn’t build houses. Civil engineers shouldn’t design lingerie. Hand models shouldn’t box.
Plato believed that if a society abided by this tenet, every task would be carried out with the highest level of quality. If your talents lie in fixing cars, get yourself a killer set of wrenches, some industrial-strength hand soap and concentrate solely on that.
But today the world changes at a pace even someone as brilliant as Plato couldn’t possibly have fathomed.
Imagine if Jeff Bezos had been content to remain a bookseller, or if Richard Branson hadn’t possessed the audacity and vision to propel Virgin from a chain of record stores into the vast empire of travel and communication enterprises it is today. It’s likely neither would have ended up broke and homeless, but they’d probably both be out of business.
I’m not suggesting throwing out your copy of “The Republic”, but in this day and age, a Principle of Innovation would seem more relevant.
Todd Gilleland is the Founder / Executive Creative Director of Cola Creative.